An educator in Florida won a huge workplace defamation lawsuit. Katherine Murphy, former principal at the Aventura City of Excellence school (ACES), was awarded $155 million in damages after successfully proving that another school executive, Eric Soroka, spread false rumors, which resulted in her firing.
Workplace Defamation Lawsuit Origins
According to the South Florida Business Journal, school and city manager, Eric Soroka, and former principal, Katherine Murphy, had a publicly contentious relationship. In 2006, Soroka was instrumental is removing Murphy from her position as a school executive – she was dismissed for allegedly stealing money to fund a trip to Switzerland. Murphy, though, insists she paid for the trip and was reimbursed for legitimate expenses after returning. Soroka, supposedly, called Murphy a “slut” as retribution for Murphy talking to the press without his permission, and he also allegedly tried to prevent Murphy from communicating with elected officials.
Ostensibly fed up with the public disparagement, Murphy filed a workplace defamation lawsuit against Soroka. She asked for a cool $155 million as restitution for distress, a damaged reputation and potential lost income.
And guess what? She won. In fact, Murphy was also awarded $500,000 in punitive damages.
Soroka is now filing an appeal. Specifically, he’s claiming that the damages awarded were duplicative and should be reconsidered. “Mr. Soroka’s position is that he is entitled to a judgment in his favor with respect to all claims asserted against him. The jury verdict is contrary to the evidence presented at trial and we are confident that Mr. Soroka’s motion will dispose of the lawsuit,” Soroka’s lawyer said in a statement released to the press.
What Must You Prove To Win A Workplace Defamation Lawsuit
Workplace defamation lawsuits follow the same standards as individual slander and libel lawsuits. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s statements:
(a) Caused harm;
(b) Are false;
(c) Were published even though the defendant knew the information was false, or published without adequate research;
In addition, a workplace defamation lawsuit must be filed within the statute of limitations for defamation.
If you need a workplace defamation attorney, contact Kelly / Warner law today to speak with one of our slander and libel lawyers.